A wide eyed youth trying to make sense of the world
During my more naive and idealistic years, I thought that studying law could enable me to help make a dent of change in the world. Then a visit to one of the magistrates courts slapped me back to reality. Two years later, Jurisprudence (the philosophy of law) discussions put into words what I had witnessed in the court that day:
- the legal system ultimately only assisted the affluent
- the South African Constitution is a great written work but too ideal to implement effectively
- lawyers, judges, attorneys, advocates, prosecutors... they were all human and swayed by human flaws
- justice was just a matter of perception... undefinable
To be honest, my path into the world of journalism was not a planned one but it made me see more instant effects. I'm not the all-caring all-for-change happy floaty person who hands R100 notes to beggars and I don't pretend to be nor do I preach about helping others. However seeing it and being able to do something does make me smile.
In the first couple of months of my life as a journalist I wrote an article about refugees and a week later I received a call from the refugee that I spoke to, pastor Matabaro, calling me to visit the Old Prison in Pietermaritzburg immediately. I went there, a tad annoyed for being pulled away from my scheduled day, only to find masses of refugees collecting food. A person from a church had read my article and now donates food monthly to help out all the refugees. "You did that!" the pastor had said to me that day.
I've written about many non-profit organisations in my last nine months of working for a newspaper. All of them doing good for the community in their own special way. Recently, a women repeated those three words to me after her project had received some funding.
"You did that!" she said.
It never means as much to me as it does to them. I'm merely doing my job. I have little control over what goes into the newspaper and what doesn't and sometimes, I wish I cared more. (I blame studying law for killing all empathy in me, despite me only studying it for two years).
Almost two years ago, I wrote a post on how easy it would be to make a change using modern technology. Today we witness instantaneous alerts about the earthquake in Japan, the nuclear power plant explosions and other countries that may be affected by it. The devastation is broadcast everywhere (except maybe Libya... but that's not because they don't care!), and people are calling to help globally.
In that light, here are some of the non-profit projects that I have written about that are making small but great changes in society (their details are at the bottom of the linked articles).
- Commodes for young children with Cerebral Palsy: Because dignity is one of the key human rights in the South African Constitution. These commodes assist in toilet-training young children with disabilities in rural areas. While commodes are not new, the design is. It's wooden, stable, easy to move and can be used outside. The design is soon to be made available freely for others to extend the project independently... and hopefully it will end up helping anyone who may need it; old or young.
- A baby safe in KZN (follow up article): Because young babies are abandoned and left to die almost every day and here's someone who's willing to look after the 'unwanted burden' free of charge and without complaint. Babies are innocent. Urgh! I understand unwanted pregnancies and financial burdens, but you don't leave the little bundle in a garbage bin.
- Free Rehab for drug addicts and alcoholics: Because substance abuse is increasing rapidly and it affects every aspect of life and change. It plays a role in the increase of crime, domestic violence, poverty and road accidents, hence affecting everyone of us.
- Refugees in PMB (of course): Because life for them is already hard enough.
Just a few years ago, a crisis occuring somewhere across of our countries borders seemed like little concern because there was little that we could do to help. But now, the world is at our fingertips. Change is at out fingertips. And no matter how small the gesture, every bit counts (kinda like voting ;)
Thursday, February 03, 2011
The world is a strange place. There is an increase of opportunities and this floating ideal that everyone is a star. However, accessing these opportunities are near impossible if you don't have the money or contacts to help you.
Accelerating globalisation and new-found equalities have resulted in more competition as everyone is now breaking out into what they truly want to do or what seems like more fun than their current day job.
Self helps books are indoctrinating us with their generalised platitudes: "Anything is possble", "Be who you have always wanted to be", "Just do it" (oh wait, that's Nike).
Today, that conservative view holding back the artistic types due to fear of monetary failure still exists but is less binding. People rather opt for the meagre income they get from doing what they love. There is an increase in qualified lawyers who are now radio DJs and rockstars; doctors and accountants who are comedians, and matric-less entrepreneurs. Everybody believes that they can be and do everything, be it writing a novel or self-medicating when they have the flu.
It all sounds glamourous and inspiring, but it's hard.
It's very easy to say "just go for it... jump!", but there's a lot at stake and EVERYBODY has something holding them back. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of success and just fear of financial difficulties are all valid reasons to not quit your current day job that you hate, to not finish that novel or to not emigrate in search for better opportunities in order to become the proverbial 'someone'.
My philosophy is "baby steps!" Work that shit job and pull yourself through the kak while slowly moving towards what you truly want.
When I was in high school, I wanted to become a film director (or an advert designer person but more a director). A fellow pupil even told me before assembly one morning that I had the stride of one and it just elevated my dream of becoming one (even though I had no idea what it even meant). However, my guidance teacher believed otherwise and said, "You can have your dreams but they must be sensible."
My parents, as any caring parents would, favoured the more sensible and stable option and I took the road well-trodden on.
After I had dragged myself through four years of university to get a BA Hons and be met with 6 months of unemployment, my dreams had become jaded. The logical option of completing an LLB and living in courts fighting for an 'anti-justice' seemed rosier than a pauper but I was unwilling to prove everybody right by completing my LLB.
I saw a message on Facebook about a short film challenge for the Durban International Film Festival. I wanted to do it but I had R2000 in my account and almost nothing to make it work. The challenge involved making a five minute film in three weeks.
On the first day of the challenge, I got that phonecall I had been waiting for: I had a job as a features writer for a newspaper. Knowing that I would have some income soon, I spent R1500 on editing software and started writing a script and gathering friends who would be interested in helping. Most of them dropped out and a week and a half later, I had one friend, Heloise (I would never have been able to complete the movie without her), helping me out and no cast.
I thought "FK it!". I didn't care about how kak my father's 2005 mini DVD handy-cam and editing software was. I just had to do it.
What resulted is a mad filming shoot over one weekend. It was never easy. The place that we had planned to film the office scene turned out to be empty with only one scratched on table and two broken chairs (one which was bright purple). We used curtains as a table cloth and as a way to transform the empty space into some kind of upmarket office. Due to the rigid time constraints, we were also unable to do second takes for certain scenes.... hence the scene where the main guy is looking the wrong way. My remaining R500 was used on food for the cast, petrol and a few props so there was no way to combat the setting sun to steal more time (though we did try flashlights).
On top of all that, I had never studied film. I borrowed a book from the library on camera work and just clicked away until I worked out how to use the editting programme.
It was a crazy mess and I never believed it would even make it through the judges to the screening at the Durban International Film Festival. But it did.
How I won was a mix of popularity and luck. The vote, originally meant to be on the DIFF website, was on Facebook. My friend however still thinks that our movie was the best. I think its a load of krap, but I'm also very insecure of my work... like most artists.
Oh well, that is how it won Best Film for the DIFF Short Film Challenge.
The point: Just go for it.
When I was younger, I used to think that modern-day communication methods could turn every tragedy into a happy ending:
Romeo would have known about Juliet's fake death if they had mobile phones and just phoned each other. The lovers in The Notebook wouldn't have to endure all that heartbreak caused by "the hiding of the letters" if Noah had just emailed Allie and if Allie had a password that her mother would have never been able to work out. Tristan could have explained everything to Isolde before she agreed to marry the king by a simple sms. Sweeney Todd's tragedy could have been solved by keeping up with his love's Facebook status updates. Atonement, Parineeta, Brokeback Mountain, Devdas...all of the lovers could have avoided the tragedies they faced with personalized modern technology.
I was wrong. With a million ways to communicate, the art of communicating has turned into a series of miscommunications. The use of words strung together in poetic depth has transformed into short spurts of syllables. That undying essence of love has eroded into 2 a.m. booty calls, divorces, and unfulfillment. Yeah, there were prostitutes, rapists, lustful encounters, and unhappy marriages in those days of poetic love, but nowadays, true love seems almost impossible. There are no more compromises in the name of love; people demand more; people are too busy to give but ever keen to take; people give up too easily.
Our lives have been engulfed by instant gratifications. No one wants to settle; they just want what they want.
This is not only in regard to relationships but also to health care, weight-loss programs, food, child care, and employment. Every day I see articles and advertisements on how to make yourself instantly happier!
Is your job making you unhappy? Ditch it today!
Are you constantly tired? Product X instantly revitalizes you!
Need to shed off those stubborn kilos? Lose 10 kg in 2 weeks!
It's everywhere. Easy fixes. And when it comes to love, people expect the same: an easy fix. Tolerance, patience, and unconditional love seems to have been lost within the category of "old fashioned." Today it feels as if all there is is fast love. Holding out for a hero seems like an eternal pursuit with a 0.5 success rate.
But hey, what is life without hope?
Sunday, February 21, 2010
I find myself caught in one of those "circles of life" — not like the big happy ones seen in The Lion King but rather the type that you keep living through, over and over and over again. You can't jump out. You just keep trying things in hopes that the circle would, at least, widen or in hopes that you will be pulled out.
Let's be honest: the great life is saved for the elite. Recently I read an article stating that opportunity is not about luck, it is about money. Wealth attracts wealth. How often are the destitute saved from their poverty and given a lifetime of success? It happens. However, it does not happen often. Especially not now when talent is everywhere.
Thanks to globalization, talent is no longer unique. One can learn skills in simple DIY steps for free. In the good old days, rare gems were discovered among the wild; people could manipulate others easily and make them believe that their skills were sought worldwide; Bartolomeu Dias even "discovered" an entire country and returned to Portugal to brag about his findings, regardless of the inhabitants that had already been living there for years. Today, everything can be cross referenced; gems can be located and purchased without one having to leave their own comforts; the cheapest option can be found with a click and the world is no longer a mystery to anyone.
I find myself sitting at my computer, once again questioning the point of it all. I spent the last 17 years studying; I now have two degrees, a wealth of useless knowledge, and no job. I would like to believe that the recession is to blame, but the truth is, I don't have the qualifications for most of the jobs that I want.
I've done the three years in retail working in an airless store room. I've saved up, I've splurged, and now I'm broke and wondering what to do next with little hope left in the dream that I have held onto since a child.
My friend suggested that I take a leap of faith and start my own movie business. "Move towards your dream and all shall fall into place," she had advised.
You need money to start your own business. You need money to get into the famous and recognized film schools that are guaranteed to land you your dream career. The movie business is strictly for the elite. To apply for financing you need a convincing business and marketing plan. You need a business. To register your business and website and get yourself on your feet, you need money. Renting equipment is sometimes more expensive than buying your own equipment. Almost nothing is affordable. It's as if I am doomed to be a slave to the system.
Education -> average job -> mediocre life.
Those words of my guidance teacher reverberate at the back of my head hauntingly: "You can have your dreams, Tharuna, but they have to be sensible."
In South Africa, the film industry is small. Only the best, the ones who could afford the private educational institutions, have a real chance of getting in. And only the "previously disadvantaged" are given free opportunities. The middle class have to fight for it. The problem is that my past is like an overly decorated Christmas tree with bad investments (people included). I would be all teeth and claw if I knew that this, starting my own movie business, was the right decision. That I could trust my partner. That there was a guarantee that people would be willing to finance a girl with only a dream and some talent.
There is no guarantee, is there?
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Being a Valentine's Day non-enthusiast by rule, I surprised myself today by wearing a pink dress and entering a shopping mall to watch the movie Valentine's Day with my friends (all Valentine's Day groupies). The movie — which I likened to Love Actually and was keen to see — turned to out to be a confirmation that Valentine's Day is indeed a shallow, commercialized, and manipulative celebration of everything but love (a viewpoint that, until now, I have been reluctant to agree with).
For one, all the lead actresses in the movie were abnormally skinny and all the men (even the geeky ones) were clean shaven, slim, and somewhat defined. In fact, the entire cast seemed to be chosen according to how good they looked naked — the men barely kept their shirts on and the women strutted around in tiny skirts or their men's oversized shirts. Additionally, the quality of acting was equivalent to the quality of materials used in low-cost housing. With the movie having an equally poor plot (or rather, too many poor plots), I wished that I had rather spent my Sunday morning helping assemble ill-suited materials to build low-cost houses for those who are poverty stricken. I would have seen more love doing the latter than I did during the entire 125 minutes of Valentine's Day.
The movie asserted the view that love is indeed shallow. In one "loving" relationship, Taylor Swift plays a ditzy, conceited school girl going out with Taylor Lautner because he was hot and athletic and, wait for it, he stayed with her and "loved" her regardless. Watching her act made me feel as if someone was massaging my eyes with sandpaper and left me with that I-know-why-Lautner-broke-up-with-Swift-in-reality feeling. Even more experienced actresses like Jennifer Garner failed to evoke any emotions in the viewer due to the haphazard plot sequence, ill-developed characters, and the lack of true love. Garner's character, who initially asserts that she had found "the one," simply dismisses the fact that this aforementioned "one" was in fact married with kids and simply moves on to loving her best friend. In another love story, child star Bryce Robinson spends the entire day waiting for his flowers to be delivered so that he may pass it on to his love. In a cheap twist, it turns out that the boy has a crush on his teacher. This problem is solved in five minutes after a one-on-one heart-to-heart in which the teacher offers him a more suitable recipient and Robinson moves on to deliver his long awaited bouquet to his same-aged best friend. In this way, former loves were continually dismissed within seconds and replaced with better options which ultimately reinforced everything that love is not. Moreover, all love stories failed to contain even a gram of true romance: lines were cheap, characters were easy, and objects of affection could simply be purchased. Also, nobody truly cries when they have their hearts torn to pieces (in my own relationships, knowing that the guy I loved was a jerk never stopped me from drowning my room in tears). The only poignant line in the movie was delivered by Shirley MacLaine (the old wise one), who stated that when you love someone, you love them for their entirety and not only for the good bits. Sadly, this line fell into a deep haystack, lost in our inability to engage with any of the characters (there were just so many!) and their inability to truly love.
The saddest part of the whole movie was that it accurately represented the reality of most Valentine's Day followers (and even haters, perhaps). In my own experience, the first Valentine's Day that I remember was when I was 11. I was the lonely girl who had chosen to follow the steps of Mr. Bean and send myself a Valentine's Day card. I remember hating myself because I thought that only the pretty and popular ones deserved to be pampered on Valentine's Day. Having then attended an all girls high school, Valentine's Day always began with the delivering of roses to and from schools of the opposite sex and always ended with me watching the 'special' girls glowing behind their bunches of roses (allegedly, the amount of roses that you received on Valentine's Day equated to how popular you would be perceived by your peers). By the time that I had reached campus, I had grown into a Valentine's Day hater, spreading the words "love sucks" to all who cared to listen while secretly wishing that someone among the six billion would be spending the day thinking about only me.
Today, however, after watching Valentine's Day, I feel a sense of joy knowing that, in 23 years, I had not once received a Valentine's Day gift nor spent the day celebrating love. I'd like to think that love is more than everything that Valentine's Day represents and that romance still lives within the fast-paced and technological confines of contemporary society. Maybe I am just another dreamer who has read one too many Nicholas Sparks novels...I'd rather dream than settle.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Hi. My name is Tharuna and I am "addicted" to social networking sites. There are two in particular: Twitter and Facebook. My friend believes that these sites have become the new alcohol/cigarettes/shopping sprees with added benefits like lower cost, easy access, and greater satisfaction. This provides one explanation for why they are spreading like an ink stain, barrier-less and reaching all age groups, races, and social classes.
There are many reasons for craving the use of social networking sites. In the rapid paced world that we live in, the giving of attention to those who want it is scarce. With global financial and employment calamities, most parents are working harder and leaving their children somewhat neglected. With women striving to reach the sky of the corporate world, relationships tend to be strained while partners become more demanding. Even parents tend to be neglected by their working-class offspring.
Social network sites, on the other hand, are attention-giving whores. They suck in people who are lonely or shy or depressed and provide them with instantly gratifying attention. You have the ability to chat with new people when the old ones have grown tired of you and subsequently get rid of them when you have grown wary of their tales by simply pressing "delete." No long, drawn-out explanations required and, if you were clever enough to not give out your details, no Cable Guy-type stalkers to ruin your life. It's clean. It's simple. It's a social happy pill.
However, at the same time, it breeds a society of demanding and conceited narcissicists. In the realm of the Internet, we become our own celebrities. We fragment ourselves in the same way celebrities do, sometimes creating whole new personalities online. We believe that our stories and daily activities are important and interesting enough for the world to know. We get sad when people fail to acknowledge and be amused by our outpourings. In a way, we have become our own gods, begging to be worshipped. The more friends or followers you have, the greater you are.
Avid site users are generally aware of their addictions. Like all addictions — be it smoking, drinking, eating, loving, or shopping — there are long-term effects that ultimately change you.
Hmmm...Maybe I should detox.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
I woke up on New Year's Day in a rather conventional manner: lungs recovering from high exposure to secondhand smoke, wallet empty, choked back tequila aftertaste, and a head full of hope. It was a completely new disposition for me. There were no resolutions for change and betterment; only ends and beginnings.
I thought that this was my own revelation. I imagined everyone else was hurrying to find ways to better themselves: joining gyms, throwing out their bottles of alcohol and packs of cigarettes, and penciling their families and friends into their busy schedules. But, I realized that I was wrong.
Like animals, humans have set behavioral patterns. For example, cats have their own personalities: some are wild and anti-social, some love human attention, some are afraid of heights...but ultimately, they all act in a certain way. They play in the same way, they all bury their excrement, they all learn how to clean themselves even when there is no adult cat to teach them. They are inherently conditioned to behave as cats.
With the Internet allowing people to connect from all over the world, we are more aware of our world, more knowledgeable about other cultures and nationalities, more open (in most cases) to differences between us, and more willing to help. It has made the world a smaller place and has made me reassess my own uniqueness.
Being a diehard for the movie Fight Club, I never considered myself to be truly unique; however, I did assume that I had my own quirkiness that separated me from everyone else. This assumption was soon shattered while scrolling through various Facebook groups. Things that I considered to be uniquely me, things that I had thought only I did had groups with over a million followers. Things such as constantly calling my mum even though I didn't need her for anything; making animal noises in shopping malls and laughing at strangers who turn around; and thinking, as a little girl, that the moon followed me wherever I went.
We are all different, yet we are all the same. If nothing else, knowing this makes stand-up comedy easier.
Stand-up comedy is like suicide when you are new to the art form. Every time the MC calls your name for you to come on stage, your knuckles go white and you feel an invisible trigger coldly press against your index finger.
"HI! I almost didn't make it to the stage tonight. I got into the room and saw this guy I used to date. My heart just stopped...but then it started again. So all's good!"
"So the other day I went to the supermarket and asked the teller for...."
People start fidgeting.
"You know, before I came here tonight, I practiced my set ten times on my cat...He didn't laugh once."
It's a cold, lonely death; and as you walk off that stage, there's no crowd to comfort you or pay their respects. They have moved onto the next comedian, glad that you are done for the night. All you have is you to beat yourself for not being funny.
I've been doing stand-up comedy over a year now. I've performed seven times, flopped three. The last time I performed, I was so nervous that a lady offered me these pills that slow down your heart.
Reason why I still go back there?
It's an adrenaline rush.
It has been a hectic week. As usual, I have left my university essay for the last week, after wasting a month in the hope that the essay would just disappear. I've now learned that procrastination is not something that can be banished after 12 years of school and four years of university — it just clings onto you like a soaking wet t-shirt. I now have three days to write a 20-page essay that I have not yet started. Therefore, instead of spilling out my thoughts on society, I wrote out the beginning of a short story that I have been working on. It's titled Outcast.
I couldn't do it. The darkness penetrated my headlights as the rain whipped the windscreen, threatening to shatter my only shield: Hope eroding into nothingness. Again and again. Vertigo. I envisaged the barrage of rain merging with my anguish, feeding it as my fingers trembled over the steel-cold trigger. I couldn't do it.
"TURN RIGHT!" my Mercedes screamed at me.
Below, a torrent raged on either side of the bridge. I looked into the review mirror; my drug-varnished eyes were swollen from the incessant crying. Pause. A blankness consumed all thought as I spun the steering wheel to the right, driving bonnet first into the river.
I sat calmly as water rushed into the car and gradually asphyxiated me. Nothing.
I held the metal tube to my head and pulled the trigger. Nothing.
I felt the bullet embed itself snugly in my cerebrum while I watched everything turn red. Nothing.
I waited for a while, then swam out, dried myself and walked back to the shed; ticking off "be empathetic" on my mental to-do list as I walked.
It was the usual Monday morning:
"What's on TV?" I asked ritually, knowing already that there was nothing that I would like. I blinked at the screen: reality show...soapie...reality show...reality show....soapie...movie...Hmmm...I lodged myself into the couch; it was going to be a long day.
"Why do you keep asking me that?" Jack snapped, six point five seconds too late. It was his morning tantrum, a vice that, as much as he tried, he could not rectify. I didn't mind it much, but, to him, it seemed to be the Great Wall of China between him and his ultimate goal of godhead. He blamed it on his 16-hour memory — medically, it did not exist but was something that his parents had told him as a kid and that he had continued to believe religiously. Of course I never corrected him. I found it entertaining watching him remembering to forget.
If Jack had to describe his life he would compare it to that ancient game of snakes and ladders: every day he progressed up the board and every morning he landed on a snake and was sent back home. Jack was not the embodiment of righteousness, but he tried, and his sins were forgiven away due to the innate good of his actions. Except in the mornings, when he remembered that he didn't remember and cursed away all traces of his chant-induced tranquil demeanour.
"WHERE ARE MY F***ING SOCKS?"
Of course, it was never a surprise when they went missing; Weasel tended to be quite explicit when he stole things. He didn't know how to steal. Gerald had attempted teaching it to him, but Weasel was an absolute klutz — an intelligent idiot whose only hope of survival was Jack's socks. He was the type of person that one could never stay angry with. He had the constant look of a puppy chewing on inflated water boots and an inherent drive to please people. It made me want to kick him and chase him out into the cold just to watch him whimper. I was waiting for the right day. Monday was never the right day.
"F***ING HELL, WHERE IS WEASEL?!"
I returned to the TV screen, wondering whether I should remind him of his quest for spiritual fulfillment before he went too far. I hated the responsibility of making such decisions. In truth I didn't actually care about what people did or how they did it; the concept of good had become subjective, and not even I had the power to entrench it in a single-sentence definition.
Hardly anyone listened to that voice of reason at the back of their heads any more. They all needed direct responses: "signs." It was such an inconvenience. Even when I did provide them with hints, they brushed it aside as mere coincidences. People had forgotten how to freefallingly believe; they had to see and feel in scientific jargon before doing anything. My existence had equated to that of the dinosaurs who had aimlessly roamed themselves into extinction.
I heard Jack stampede down the stairs, his clenched fists punching the railings as his morning tirade bottled itself in his throat, waiting to explode. I decided to intervene before he entered the room: "Probably stoned in the middle of nowhere. Would you like a cup of coffee?" It was my voice of masked reason.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I'm sitting in the campus lan, slightly tipsy at only 11 a.m., thinking about an old friend. It would have been his 22nd birthday today...only he's dead.
"I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant" —Robert McCloskey
There comes a time in everyone's life where they feel the incessant need to explain themselves, over and over, until all explanations recede to the background and transform into a gentle hum that, while still there, is easy to ignore. Why? Do we feel guilty for our actions? Do we regret the choice we made? Are we hurt? Do we doubt ourselves?
I used to believe that the world defined us and that we had little say in the boxes that society dumped us in. However, I soon realized that society had nothing on me — I define myself for myself and that is all that should matter. Society may challenge my own definitions, but I always have the last word. Though, it's never easy to stand up, walled to your own beliefs...especially when the army against you is stronger and better armed...especially when the war is against the people who are important to you...especially when all you want to do is pause the battle and explain yourself.
My counselor once told me that explanations were manipulative. I disagree. Sometimes explanations are crucial for communication — misunderstandings occur all the time. It's somewhat the guilty-until-proven-innocent concept. Then again, shouldn't people who you consider to be close to you know you well enough without you having to justify your every hiccup...?
I find myself at the rock bottom of despair — thinking about a dead friend who considered his friends to be the most precious things on Earth and who I neglected; and the other friend, the one who I did everything I could for regardless of me meaning nothing to him and him treating me disrespectfully. I lost both.
Life is short. Why waste time on people that don't care about you? Why keep trying?
I'm sitting here, in my drunken stupor, searching for reasons and explanations to rationalize the choices I have made in my past. Reasons for why I abandoned my friend when he needed me the most. Reasons why I wasn't there when he was dying. Explanations that would somehow make the other friend forgive me so that he would come back into my life...just to let me know, that all the time I had spent on him was not wasted, and that, in some way, he really did care about me.
It's all nonsense really. The truth is that I was a bad friend who spent the last couple of years chasing a prick (mind the language, but there is no other word that would describe him better). So instead, I am going to think up reasons to forgive myself; and the first reason is that I have learned from my mistakes. Now if only I had the ability to know who is worth my time...Sigh.
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